Doodling the Whimsical

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2017 Red Bull Doodle Art Contest Region Finalist Sheilla Witanto. Photo courtesy of Sheilla Witanto.

Sheilla Witanto lives in a world where dragons blow bubbles as astronauts float in space and a train chugs along in the background. At least this is one of the world’s bouncing around inside Witanto’s head that was translated into an illustration that won her the title of Region Finalist of the 2017 Red Bull Doodle Art contest.

“To me doodling is getting whatever is on my brain onto paper,” said the 22-year-old, who graduated from the Academy of Art University in May with a bachelor’s degree in illustration. “I doodle all day. That's how I brainstorm.”

Red Bull, which accepted more than 40,000 doodle illustration submissions from students all over the world, announced Witanto and four other Academy students among the top 10 winners of the West U.S. region. Then Witanto went on to become one of only 47-regional finalists in May. Those finalists will soon unite at the Red Bull Doodle Art 2017 Global Final hosted at the Academy on June 21.

Here, finalists will be coached on how to level-up their 3-D artistic skills and create a final piece of art by painting in 3-D. The students’ final work will be exhibited at the Global Virtual Reality Gallery held in the Atelier Gallery open to the public on June 24 and 25. A final winner will be chosen by an honorable jury on June 24 at the opening of the Global VR Gallery.

Photo May 25, 10 21 48 AM

2017 Red Bull Doodle Art Contest Region Finalist Sheilla Witanto with her winning doodle art. Photo courtesy of Sheilla Witanto.

Witanto couldn’t be more excited to meet her fellow contestants, especially since she almost didn’t compete. It was the opportunity to learn from and interact with illustration students from around the world however that convinced her.

“I wasn't excited about it at first,” said Witanto who was born and raised in Indonesia. “But when I found out I could meet participants from all over the world and learn about art, I was interested.”

The last-minute submission really paid off and if it weren’t for Chuck Pyle, director of the School of Illustration, who encouraged Witanto to enter the contest, she may never have had the chance to create art that has been viewed by people from around the globe.

Witanto’s doodle captures her fascination with fantasy and the whimsical nature of her work.

Although Witanto created the doodle in about an hour and a half, she has put countless hours into being the talented artist she is today. Witanto’s work was also featured in the Academy’s 2017 Spring Show Student Showcase.

Pyle said he encouraged Witanto to enter the contest because of her work ethic, positive attitude and her capability to do an “outstanding job.”

“She’s phenomenal,” he said. “She has the right spirit, is humble, open minded and very hard working. She doesn’t settle for the first answer. She drives herself quietly and relentlessly.”

Pyle said it’s easy to see why Witanto’s illustration was chosen among some 40,000 submissions because of its complexity and beauty. He also spoke about Witanto’s broad range of capabilities as an illustrator and the importance of her attendance at the Global VR Gallery because of VR’s growing impact on the illustration industry.

As for Witanto’s life after graduation, she is interested in illustrating for a publication or children’s books, but only time will tell. Graduating for Witanto was a bittersweet moment. She said she will forever cherish her time at the Academy.

“My experience here is invaluable,” she said. “I met so many amazing peers and instructors and they all shared a lot with me. I came in not knowing what illustration is and have come out knowing this amazing world and community of artists I am excited to continue being a part of.”